Early Christianity in Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas

From Paul to Justinian I (1st–6th cent. AD)


This volume focuses on Christianity in Attica and its metropolis, Athens, from Paul’s initial visit in the first century up to the closing of the philosophical schools under the reign of Justinian I in the sixth century. Underscoring the relevance of epigraphic resources and the importance of methodological sophistication in analysing especially archaeological evidence, it readdresses many questions on the basis of a larger body of evidence and aims to combine literary, epigraphic, and archaeological evidence in order to create the outlines of a narrative of the rise and development of Christianity in the area. It is the first interdisciplinary study on the local history of Christianity in the area.

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Cilliers Breytenbach (Dr. theol. 1983; Dr. theol. habil. 1986, both LMU Munich) is Professor Emeritus for New Testament at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Professor Extraordinary for New Testament and for Ancient Studies at Stellenbosch University. He is inter alia the co-author of Early Christianity in Lycaonia and Adjacent Areas (Leiden, 2018) and author of The Gospel according to Mark as Episodic Narrative (Leiden, 2021).

Elli Tzavella (PhD in Byzantine Studies 2013, University of Birmingham) is archaeologist at the Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia, Hellenic Ministry of Culture. She has published many articles on Athens and Attica during late antiquity and the Byzantine period and she is author of Byzantine Attica: An Archaeology of Settlement and Landscape (4th–12th c. AD) (Turnhout, in press).
“The book is a solid piece of scholarship on Christianization of Athens and Attica. It is a significant achievement as it utilizes an immense amount of research to offer a panoramic and detailed picture of the development of Christianity […] The authors persuasively combine historical, literary, archaeological and epigraphical information, to give specialists in Late Antiquity a comprehensive picture of Christianity in Athens from its beginnings in the first century. At the same time, the enormous and systematically collected information opens the way to further research into a variety of other related subjects and stimulates discussion on many controversial issues.”
Helen Saradi, Professor of Byzantine History and Byzantine Civilization, University of the Peloponnese, Kalamata. In: Plekos 26 (2024) 155–170

"The authors should be congratulated on the huge amount of primary and secondary literature they have managed to bring together, present, and discuss. Remaining loyal to the philosophy of the series, Breytenbach and Tzavella’s project proves to be mostly aggregative and expository [...] The most important ancient texts and all the Christian inscriptions discussed are cited in full and have been translated. The quality of the English and the editing is excellent."
Georgios Deligiannakis, Open University of Cyprus. In: Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2024.03.26

"Das Werk bietet […] einen einfachen und übersichtlichen Zugang zu den vielzähligen verarbeiteten Quellen und Diskursen. In dieser Bereitstellung eines Zugangs zum frühen Christentum in Athen und Umgebung, seinen Quellen und den in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten verfassten Forschungspositionen besteht die große Leistung der Autoren, der sich so als Ausgang weiterer Überlegungen anbietet. Dem eingangs formulierten Anspruch, einen Überblick über die relevante Evidenz verschaffen zu wollen, wird das Werk in seiner Gesamtheit gerecht, wobei die erstmalige synoptische Präsentation des archäologischen Materials diesen Charakter abrundet." Felix Schäfer, Universität Münster. In: The Byzantine Review 6 (2024) 86-98.
List of Figures

1 Introduction: The Christianization of Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas from Paul to the End of the Reign of Justinian I (527–565)
 1 Previous Research on the Christianization of Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas
 2 Literary Sources for the Study of Christianity in Athens
 3 Christian Inscriptions from Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas
 4 Archaeological Evidence on Christianity in Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas
 5 Setting Limits and Crossing Boundaries

2 Stability and Crisis in Athens and Attica from Paul’s Visit to the End of Justinian’s Rule (a Geographical and Historical Overview)
 1 The Physical Environment: Introduction
 2 Geographical Overview
 3 Population and Settlement
 4 Administration
 5 Historical Outline of Attica between the First and the Sixth Centuries

3 Christianity and Philosophy in Polytheistic Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas
 1 Introduction
 2 Luke’s Paul and Athenian Polytheism
 3 Second-Century Christian Apologists
 4 Religion in Athens in the Third and Fourth Centuries
 5 Christian Theologians and Athenian Paideia in the Fourth Century
 6 Christianity and the City of Athena: From the Late Fourth until the Mid-Sixth Century
 7 Conclusion

4 The Expansion of Christianity: Archaeological Evidence
 1 Introduction
 2 The Transformation of Cultic Spaces
 3 The Transformation of Burial Spaces

5 Christianity in Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas: A Survey of the Epigraphic Evidence
 1 Introduction to the Christian Inscriptions of Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas
 2 Christian Identity Markers
 3 Persons Identified as Christian by Inscriptions on Monuments from Athens and Surroundings
 4 Persons Identified as Christian by Inscriptions on Locatable Monuments from the Territory of Athens
 5 Persons Identified as Christian by Inscriptions on Monuments from Piraeus
 6 Attic Christianity beyond Athens
 7 Christianity in Areas Adjacent to Attica

6 Aspects of Christianity in Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas
 1 Introduction
 2 Gender and Family Relations
 3 Occupations and Social Status
 4 Churches as Loci
 5 Churches as Organized Institution
 6 The Role of the Bible and Theology in Inscriptions
 7 Religious Violence
 8 Organization of Cemeteries
 9 Christian Hope for Life after Death
 10 Changing the Religious Landscape

7 Résumé: Expansion of Early Christianity in Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas
 1 A Summary of the Contents
 2 An Exemplary Résumé of the Characteristics of Christianity in Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Regions
 3 Factors Determining the Rise of Christianity in Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Regions
 4 Conclusion

Appendix: Catalogues
Catalogue A: Early Christian Churches in Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas
 Part I: The Urban Zone of Athens (asty)
 Part II: Minor Towns and the Rural Countryside
 Part III: Adjacent Areas
Catalogue B: Late Antique Cemeteries of Athens, Attica, and Adjacent Areas
 Part I: The Urban Zone of Athens (asty)
 Part II: Attica and Adjacent Areas
Concordance of Inscriptions
Index of Ancient Sources
Index of Personal Names
Index of Places
Index of Buildings and Monuments
Index of Selected Subjects and Persons
Ancient Historians, Church Historians, Theologians, Early Byzantine Studies, Archaeologists
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